My new compostumbler is getting full. The other day I looked in. It was more than 3/4 full. It has been very wet looking so I didn’t think my mix of greens and browns was correct. So I have been adding shredded leaves as the brown material. The leaves are a good addition, mixing in nicely, absorbing some of the wetness. I can feel how much is in there when I rotate it. It feels heavy and I can hear the kerplunk as the material goes around. Even though there is so much in there and it is heavy, the gearing system makes it easy to turn.
I wanted to take a picture of it being so full. So I went out a few days later with my camera in hand and now it looks to be over 1/2 full. The compost is shrinking! I was surprised that the compost had compressed so quickly. It must be working well. That is just the nature of compost. Your pile can be very large and as the compost critters start to work, the pile gets smaller. It is the same in the worm bin. I start off with a worm bin full of moistened newspaper and after a week the pile goes down a little as the worms work the scraps and the newspaper.
When I saw that the compost had shrunk, I thought I would keep adding kitchen scraps to build it up. After thinking about it, I decided that I would like to see a finished product. If I keep adding kitchen scraps then it will prolong the process because all the new food scraps will need to be composted. So I am stopping and letting the process complete itself so I can see the finished compost. I will just add the food scraps to another bin for awhile. I am very excited to see the finished product.
Read more about what kind of compost bin to buy at Compact Compost Tumbler. The picture above is a Compact Compostumbler.
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This is an update on Sugar Snap Peas planted earlier this year. The first batch of Sugar Snap Peas that were planted on March 15th are about 12 inches tall. They are looking very good and the plastic fence is keeping the hungry rabbits away from the peas. I have planted 2 other batches (one every week or so) so hopefully we will have these delectable treats for a longer period. Some plants are growing up the fence so I pulled them off and encouraged them to grow up the tomato cage.
The Sun-gold Cherry Tomatoes were planted February 2. Maybe a little too early, because they were ready to be planted before the last frost date. Also they were taking up a lot of room in my house! So some were planted before the last frost date and some after. There were 6. On really cold nights I covered them with plastic buckets. There were lots of cold days so I didn’t know how they would fare.
They are looking good now and they actually have flower buds on them. I know people say to wait until it is really warm to plant tomatoes, but even with some cold days and nights these are doing quite well. Maybe it is because we also have had several hot days in the upper 80’s which is very unusual for this area.
The picture to the left is the Sun-gold cherry tomato seedling from February. You can see that it has grown a lot. Compare the seedling to the picture above it. These plants produce a very delicious orange cherry tomato. I had so many last year that I froze some and used them in soup and bean dishes over the winter. When I am in the garden on summer mornings I just keep popping them into my mouth because they are so sweet and scrumptious!
By the way the tomatoes and peas were planted with lots of worm compost, regular compost and rabbit manure dug into the soil.
So what do worms eat? This post is the 3rd in a series on setting up a cheap vermicomposting bin. See my post on what worms like to eat for more details on how to feed worms. In this post I would like to get a few ideas across.
- Always bury the kitchen scraps to eliminate fruit flies and odors.
- Since you have a small bin, feed the worms what they like.
- Start small and increase food amount gradually.
- Make sure they finish what you give them first before adding more.
- Don’t expect them to eat all your scraps unless you have a very large or several bins.
- Make sure there are no bad odors in the worm bin, this would indicate that it is becoming anaerobic and needs more oxygen.
A big reason why people fail with worm bins is that they put in too much food. That is what I did with my first bin and it was a miserable failure. Start small and build up the amount gradually. Don’t worry they will not starve. They will actually eat the newspaper. Here is a list of things that I find my worms really like:
- Butternut squash and pumpkin
- Banana peels
- Cantaloupe and watermelon rinds
- Cucumber and zucchini peelings
- Rabbit manure
- Apple cores
- Spoiled peaches
- Small amount of crushed eggshells
- Shredded leaves that have no chemicals on them
- Small amount of soil for grit for their gizzard.
At some point you will stop adding paper and let the worms finish processing the bedding and kitchen scraps to produce finished vermicompost. The whole process will take 3-4 months. Check your worm bin every few days. Use plastic gloves and dig down into the bedding to see how things are. If it is a little dry spritz it with a spray bottle. Do the worms look healthy? Are they moving around? Is there any bad odor? If there is a bad smell it means there is not enough oxygen. Moving everything around gives it more oxygen. If it is too moist add shredded newspaper. When you are finished make sure the food scraps are still buried. If they have finished the food give them some more.
See an interesting youtube video on Boakshi and red composting worms!
If you are starting small like this the worms are not going to eat so much. This is really just a way to get started. Learn the process and see if it works for you. If it works you can buy a bigger bin and more worms later. Maybe your worms will multiply so well that you won’t have to buy any additional. I started with 1 lb of worms and have given worms away twice and now they fill 3 bins. So they do have a way of multiplying very quickly. Click below to order worms: